A hard knock life

This is a picture of wood burning. It represents a difficult life, trial and agony.

Whoever said, ‘Life is beautiful,’ was either caught up in grandiose delusions like green sunsets or sought solace in excruciating pain and became a tragic optimist of sorts.

Life isn’t beautiful, and it’s not fair. It’s bleak like an arid landscape devoid of any vegetation and tortured by the spiteful sun. It roars with pain like the waves that thrash madly and then sweep away the shore in their angst. It agonizes you like a throbbing hangover after a night spent drinking a bottle of rum. It tortures you emotionally and physically like a man with cancer who also happens to be on death row.

Life can ebb away before you know it, and all you’ll become is a redundant machine like an outdated computer with dust and grime coating its screen. Life can break you like a wrestler puts his opponent in a hold and crushes his arm. Life can gut you like a thief sneaking up on you and pushing that blade into your belly for just a little cash. Life makes its demands and when you don’t heed; you may not suffer the consequences now, but there will come a time when it’ll take every drop of blood from you.

Philosophers have sought explanations as to why there is sorrow, and as to why we live in a fractured world. Some have made that bold nihilistic statement – ‘God is dead,’ and have envisioned a world in which humanity has absolute freedom without consequences. Some have gone further and added that every human is responsible for every cataclysmic event that happens even though there is no purpose. These days we argue about the very nature of reality. ‘Are we living in a simulation?’ Some ask.

But theories meet theories and anti-theories, and ultimately the search for purpose becomes what it truly is – a never-ending struggle with time, space and our place in reality. ‘Everything is meaningless and just a chase after the breeze,’ said Solomon who was probably the first real nihilist.

The truth is that all his metaphors and exploits and wisdom gained him nothing. Then defeated, he wrote Ecclesiastes and projected his grimness while he did. I’ll end with a story of a prodigal son. Except in this one, there’s no closure, no catharsis, and no epiphany.

Once there lived a man who demanded his father’s inheritance and spent it quickly on buying himself an apartment. He believed he was absolutely free and spent more money on women, cigarettes, and alcohol. The money flowed because his father was rich, and he set up bank accounts and tried using it responsibly while maintaining his bohemian lifestyle. But pleasure always catches up and overthrows direction, and he fell into drugs and horrible company. Towards the end, battered and bruised, he said, ‘I’ll get my shit together,’ and tried, but he found his pattern of recklessness inescapable. He found himself becoming the man in the iron cage, the reprobate; abandoned by God and forsaken by men. His father passed away, and he went back to live with his mother. She showed him love, but he never reciprocated it. He’d become so used to getting what he wanted that now he projected his failures on her and verbally and physically started abusing the poor old woman. One day, he struck her too hard, and she collapsed and lay there, breathless. ‘Oh, mother! Oh, sweet mother! My angel! What have I done? What have I done?’ He sobbed bitterly. Then too cowardly to face the law and shame, he resorted to taking his own life.

Life isn’t beautiful because it always leaves you wanting more.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

The jolly literati mafia

Man, this job is so demanding. It takes some substantial, heavy-duty grit to become a made writer these days. You need graphene, a seemingly beautiful, honeycomb heart that cannot be broken. The boss, she’s given me a new assignment, and this time it’s a hit-list sonnet. And they want me to write about these beautiful strokes of tea plantations personifying the cool mist. The assignment is called MoWriPoNa and there are so many artists who need the gat. I can’t say that I don’t feel like using the word in a sonnet, and sprinkling a lot of sawdust metaphor, but that’s the stuff that Johnny did. I guess he was an undercover tortured agent or something. Well, he writes using a pseudonym elsewhere and there’s a bounty. I guess he couldn’t fight the dark matter that masquerades as gravity here. I’m growing a beard and I know that’s against the rules, but I haven’t met the boss for a while. I mean these Einaudi loving, tea drinking, ostensibly anti-anarchical, know the rules and then neatly stitch the pentameter, never admitting that they mess up people are…made. But, I can’t be Johnny, can I? I mean he just expressed himself to survive, to fight mental illness, and they didn’t like it: blue birds turned into hawks, love turned into hate, and bread turned into rust. He also knew and perhaps lost a truth that few artists find. Or he’s in for some chastisement! And trust me, I don’t want to know it! Hell, I’ve got a second chance and I can’t mess up. I can’t be a straight edge Bukowski, or a Hamlet without a complex. But I was someone else once. I mean all this faux-philosophizing always kicks you in the gut with just a simple equation, or a sense of an ending. It was years ago: W+P=FP (Formerly), but thinking back, the rules were the same. You can’t express yourself in ways that are seemingly real. I guess that ended decades ago, because if you did, something stings worse than a viper, and they probably smash their screens, buy a new computer, and sting back with falsehood. But if I can’t deal with them, how am I supposed to fight those who don’t use spindrift words, but come at you with machetes? Well, that’s Johnny’s job. I’ll be made soon. Who’s next? Keats or Yeats?

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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Fine meat

That butcher Su, she lived across the street
and spoke of dreams and an attractive call
so, she didn’t hang grotesque crap on her wall
and sold ethereal, divine, fine meat

She kept a tally of her patrons sweet
on an advanced white, velvety smooth wall
and strangely said dictators have to fall
but loved the bhadralok and them she’d greet!

Just Fugu, Sushi, Cemani, she’d sell
to wealthy families, and scream, Revolt!
But truth that kills a man, I lived and saw
and certain trees these butter knives don’t fell
I’ve learned to preach to masses and a ‘dolt’
I guess I like my steak cooked bloody raw.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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